Nunavik recovery centre hosts month-long sobriety challenge

Participants can raise funds for new Isuarsivik facility in Kuujjuaq

Kuujjuaq residents enjoy a picnic outside their community in March 2018 as part of the first Pingngupaa sobriety challenge, hosted by the Isuarsivik regional recovery centre. (Photo courtesy of Isuarsivik)

By Sarah Rogers

For a second year running, the Isuarsivik regional recovery centre is offering Nunavimmiut a good reason to go “dry” for the month of February.

The Kuujjuaq-based treatment centre is hosting Pingngupaa, a month-long sobriety challenge.

Pingngupaa is an expression that means you’ve had too much of something and want a break.

“This really targets drinkers—it’s a challenge to stay sober,” said Alicia Aragutak, executive director at Isuarsivik.

The challenge is open to anyone who drinks alcohol, casually or more heavily, from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik or elsewhere, she said.

The event is designed in part to raise awareness around alcohol use and encourage responsible drinking. But it also aims to raise funds for Isuarsivik’s new $37-million facility, which is on track to open in 2021.

Participants can collect donations by signing on one or more sponsors to help support their challenge.

In Isuarsivik’s first month-long sobriety challenge in 2018, 28 Kuujjuamiut signed up to take part, raising more than $3,000 towards the new centre.

“It has a big impact on people who take part,” Aragutak said, noting some of last year’s participants have remained sober ever since.

More and more, Aragutak said she sees Nunavimmiut seeking healthier lifestyles and wellness, and sobriety is one movement within that.

“[Inuit are] in a position where we know what’s happened to us and we want to heal from it,” she said.

The staff and board members behind the new Isuarsivik centre stress that it’s not just a place for those with an alcohol addiction to come to detox; it’s a place that will be open to any Nunavimmiut who have faced trauma.

Isuarsivik currently offers a six-week treatment cycle for up to nine clients in its existing facility, though the program cannot keep up with demand.

The centre’s board of directors launched plans to replace the 70-year-old building with a new, expanded facility that could accommodate 20 clients at the time, plus additional facilities for family members.

The new Isuarsivik centre, planned at a location on Nuvuuk Bay in Kuujjuaq, hopes to employ 42 staff members, including an on-site psychologist, nurse and family therapists.

Construction will begin on staff housing for the centre this summer, with work on the main facility set to begin in 2020. Isuarsivik has so far secured about $20 million of its $37-million budget.

To support Kuujjuaq-based participants in this year’s Pingngupaa, Isuarsivik will be running social activities through the month of February. Follow the Isuarsivik Facebook page for more details.

Pingngupaa participants can download a registration form here to fill out and send back to

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Kanuwhipit on

    Pingnugupaa means hangover.

  2. Posted by Malty Minotaur on

    Good initiative. I think learning to drink responsibly is a skill that needs to be taught. I’ve been working on 3 alcohol free days a week, and limits to no more than 4 drinks (though I typically aim for 2 to 3) per night. That to me seems reasonable enough. Light to moderate drinking can be good for your health, as long as you are able to control it.

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